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NatRoad takes up cudgel again on stevedore costs

Australian families pay more as port charges rise 325 per cent in four years, industry body says


The average cost of unloading a container from a ship onto a truck in eastern ports has soared more than 300 per cent in four years and Australian families are paying the price, the National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) points out.

NatRoad CEO Warren Clark highlights that the charges that stevedores levy to handle cargo on the eastern seaboard have never been higher.

“Since shipping lines contract this work to a single stevedore, heavy vehicle operators are forced to accept excessive fees with no options for a better price,” Clark says.





Percentage rise
















Eastern Seaboard average





Source: NatRoad

NatRoad notes that, according to transport industry group Container Transport Alliance Australia (CTAA), the average fee for unloading an import container has risen from a three-state average of $24.52 in 2017 to $121.87 in March 2021 for New South Wales, from $34.63 to $118.59 for Queensland, and $27.07 to $128.51 in Victoria.

“Stevedore charges are combined with hidden fees that some port operators are bringing to bear,” Clark says.

“A new impost like the vehicle booking fee at the privately owned Port Botany has jumped by nearly half in the past year, and Patrick Terminals have introduced a ‘long vehicle’ charge at their facilities.

“In the end, truckies are forced to pass these increased costs on to consumers through higher prices – at the expense of both Australian consumers and exporters.”

Clark says it is no wonder that, for for 2019-20, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) annual Container stevedoring monitoring report shows that the stevedoring industry generated $167 million in revenue from “infrastructure access charges” in 2018-19, up 63 per cent from the previous year.

Read an earlier NatRoad view on stevedore charges, here

“Most heavy vehicle operators are small businesses that exist on a three percent profit margin,” Clark said.

“These businesses face having to cut wages and lay off staff, putting yet more strain on an industry already doing it tough in current economic conditions.

“NatRoad is engaging with the federal government and the ACCC on port charges to seek greater intervention so that price gouging does not occur.”

The Container stevedoring monitoring report 2019-20 can be found here.


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